As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
There is perhaps no better place to see how stressful the Christmas season can become than the parking lot of a shopping mall in the weeks before Christmas. Some people, it seems, will run you over for a parking space.
Let’s face it, even with the best of intentions, the Christmas season can all too easily dissolve into a frenetic scramble to decorate the house, put up the tree, send Christmas cards, bake, shop, wrap presents, and attend various holiday gatherings. As we get ready to celebrate our Savior’s birth, we’ll need to be intentional if we are to avoid becoming “distracted by all the preparations.”
Especially at this time of year, Jesus’ teaching that “only one thing is needed” helps us focus on what matters most. It reminds us that Jesus never asked for a perfect feast to be prepared in his honor or for our houses to be decorated in Martha Stewart fashion. And he certainly didn’t encourage us to stress over finding the perfect gifts or to go into debt to pay for them. He asked only that we turn our attention to Him. As we prepare for this holiday season, let’s be sure not to overlook the one thing that is truly needed: time with the One whose birth we celebrate.